Holy Buffet

By Nicolette McCullough

“Having free time is not opulence, it is a danger.”
-Radhanath Swami

Since neither of them had to work that day and the semester recently ended, he took her to lunch at a temple. A faith he didn’t believe in or know anything about. It didn’t matter. Nor did it mean much that it was his longtime partner’s favorite place for a meal. Nothing mattered, except that he was now here with her.

After months of secretly longing, he manifested his dream of deception on a beautiful day in a place of worship. They removed their shoes and walked to the dining hall where they were greeted with a friendly smile. He paid for their meals, she thanked him and was impressed by the peaceful environment. They arranged their plates with vegetarian food prepared with prayer and sat down. Finally, he thought, we are alone together.

No longer within the confines of other people, they talked. They shared stories of their lives. Though his weren’t entirely true. He made his girlfriend not exist to the woman sitting before him. She was referred to as his “ex,” when in reality they shared a home and a life. An existence he would return to when he picked her up from a yoga class that evening after he got back from being “unexpectedly called into work.”

That didn’t matter either. With her in front of him and enjoying the lush surroundings, he could be whoever he wanted to be. He could be single, he could be vegetarian, he could even be honest. She wouldn’t know any different, any better.

At the temple, like so many before him, he could reinvent himself. But instead of praying and living in reverence to that which is higher than the self, he lied. He lied to this young woman, whom he had met a few months prior. He lied to his partner, whom he had known for the last 10 years.

Finally, he lied to himself, whom he had known his whole life.

Out of three involved in his duplicity, only one doesn’t know the truth. It most likely will be just a blip in the young woman’s life, a date she barely thinks about, but it caused so much suffering to the other woman. On top of the relationship ending, her favorite place to eat is now forever colored by the fact that he chose, of all places, to take someone else there under dark pretenses. One can only guess the effect it had on him.

Lies stack up like stones of different sizes, destined to topple over. Does the heart of a liar not beat the same as the rest of us? Are they waiting for that stack of stones to fall so they can be free? Or will they continuously build? Ignoring the rubble left in the lives of those they’ve hurt.

Nicolette McCullough is soon to be a registered yoga teacher, with the intention of being a lifetime student.